Do you struggle to see what’s lying just in front of your car when you drive at night? Not sure why your headlights have yellowed over time? Can’t think of anything else besides blinding other drivers on the road by turning on the high-beam because the low beams have become hazy?
If you find yourself nodding in response to any of these questions, then you need the best headlight restoration kit. Apart from averting a potentially dangerous scenario – by making everything in front of the vehicle as visible as possible, they’d make your (and fellow road drivers) safe.
Furthermore, as you’ll find out by scrolling through our headlight restoration kit reviews, most of these units last for months. So you can count on them to continue to brighten up your night time journeys some time to come.
Best Headlight Restoration Kit Reviews
1. Meguiar’s G2980 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
Coming from a brand that is famous for its vehicle-specific products, the Meguiar’s G2980 is a heavy-duty restoration kit. It comes with two sanding pads which you can use both with bare hands as well as with a power drill. Also included is a pad for manual sanding that would help in fine-tuning.
Then there is the proprietary sealant that blocks the ingress of UV rays. You also get a polishing buff wool pad that would give your headlamps a clear, uniform appearance. The polish applicator pad in the kit, meanwhile, boasts a rich gel formula that restores clarity to both flexible and clear rigid plastics.
What’s more, its 1000 and 3000-grit sanding discs let you attach them to the sanding pad. That makes the entire structure easy to control while sanding. Once you’re done applying the sealant, it would keep your lamps transparent for up to 12 months before requiring reapplication.
2. 3M 39165 Headlight Restoration Kit
One of the best features of the 3M 39165 Headlight Restoration Kit is its wide-ranging utility. The universal formula of the polishing and wax contents of this kit makes it safe to use on your taillights, directional lights, and even fog lights.
Furthermore, the kit contains sandpapers of two grits. The one with the finer grit will take care of seriously damaged units whereas the coarse-grit sandpaper will remove minor scratches. Also on offer are sanding discs that you can attach to a drill to achieve better results.
To make sure that you don’t end up damaging paint while using sandpaper on the headlamps, it provides a tape and lens protectant in the package. Its protectant prevents UV rays from interfering with the outer, protective layer of your headlights for up to a year.
3. SYLVANIA – Headlight Restoration Kit
The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit comes with a lifetime warranty that remains applicable as long as you own the vehicle. Its three-step procedures make it a cinch to apply and you won’t have to spend more than five minutes in its application.
The first of the three steps involve the application of its surface activator. It’s a compound that softens the external surface of your headlamps, thereby preparing it for the sanding. In the second step, you’d sand away any yellowing or discoloration before polishing to retain that bright look.
While the first two steps are also crucial, the success of the entire restoration is predicated on the final step. As it’s here that you’d apply the UV coat applicator which would keep the harmful UV rays at bay. That, in turn, would allow the headlamps to retain their post-restoration shine for long.
4. Meguiar’s G2970 Two Step Headlight Restore
In contrast to the Meguiar’s G2980 that we discussed above, the G2970 doesn’t force you to purchase a drill to take full advantage of its polishing substance. You won’t even have to do sanding to get a crystal-clear finish. That’s why even an amateur could use it without any assistance.
What makes this kit a cinch to apply is its two-step procedure. Simply spray the cleaning solution on the lamps, and lubricate them with the headlight coating. Then use the included pads to rub both the compounds in. The simplicity of the procedure means you’d be done with it within minutes.
However, the fact that it’s easy to apply doesn’t mean that the kit won’t deliver eye-catching results. If you take the necessary precautions before applying the contents of the kit to your headlamps – which include ensuring that the headlight is dry, the headlights’ optical clarity will see a definite rise.
5. 3M Headlight Restoration System
Some of the headlight restoration systems on the market only include sandpapers to take care of minor scratches. Others have a refining system that won’t do any polishing. There are others which only do polish and nothing else. Luckily for you, the 3M Headlight Restoration System can do it all.
Its versatility would have raised its asking price, right? Of course not. This restoration kit is one of the most inexpensive in this review. That despite the fact that it features the 3M abrasive technology which empowers its ingredients to fully restore the original brightness of your hazy headlights.
Provided you can do the sanding and buff with the drill, the results would be better than those coming from a manual job. However, the 1-hour application time of this kit means you’d have to take some time out of your busy schedule. That’s why we recommend that you use it on the weekends.
6. Mothers 07251 NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
If you want to take full advantage of this renewal kit, start by using its restoration discs. They hold enough muscle to remove tough grime and minor scratches. If you feel that the scratches are anything but minor, turn to the backing plate. Attach it with a drill to restore the shine of badly damaged headlights.
One of the highlighting features of this kit is its included polish. It not only restores the shine of your headlamps but also helps in retaining it. It does that by leaving a protective polymer coating on top of your unit, which acts as a barrier against UV rays and prevents oxidation.
What is more, to save you from a hit-and-trial method, this restoration kit comes with an instruction manual. Use the directions given there to get over with the entire renewal process in less than an hour. Oh, and the fact that it comes in an 8ounce bottle means that this kit would last long.
Best Headlight Restoration Kits Comparison Chart
Meguiar’s G2980 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
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3M 39165 Headlight Restoration Kit
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SYLVANIA – Headlight Restoration Kit
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Meguiar’s G2970 Two Step Headlight Restore
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3M Headlight Restoration System
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Mothers 07251 NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
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What is a Headlight Restoration Kit?
As the name implies, headlight restoration kits restore the originality of your headlamps. They do that by removing the fogginess that might have clouded their external surface. In doing so, they also help increase the intensity of the bulb’s beam, making the path in front of your windscreen brighter.
A full headlight restoration kit might consist of many items including:
- Sanding pads
- Plastic cleaner
- Microfiber towel
- Sandpaper of different grits
- UV sealant
Apart from including the abovementioned items, the premium kits might also have:
- Vinyl glove
- Drill adapter
- Velcro drill arbor
Headlight Restoration Kit Buying Guide
If your car’s original headlights have yellowed beyond repair, your night-time trips have become unsafe. Think that we’re exaggerating things here? What else you’d call a situation in which you can’t see what’s right in front of your vehicle as the speedometer touches the 120mph mark? Of course, it’s dangerous!
In case you’re wondering, it’s the scratches that dim your headlights’ output. Their presence not only reduces the light’s shininess, but it also mars your car’s appearance. It means that, in the worst-case scenario, scratch-ridden headlights will decrease your vehicle’s resale value.
Having established its importance, let’s look at how to choose the headlight restoration kit.
What to Consider When Buying a Headlight Restoration Kit?
Following are the questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a headlight restoration kit:
One Step or Multi-Step
Just like most other things in life, headlight restoration kits do not come in the one-size-fits-all category. Some of them are one step whereas the other consists of multiple steps. These ‘steps’ indicate how far they’d go to restoring your vehicle’s original headlights.
Some of the kits mentioned above fall in this category. They offer nothing but a cleaning solution to wipe the dirt, dust and other particles that are yellowing its light off the headlight’s external surface.
This arrangement has its plus and minus points. They work brilliantly if your headlights need minor restoration. However, if you want better results or have a major restoration job at hand, they aren’t the best bet.
Some restoration kits involve as many as six steps to return your headlights to their original condition. These steps include washing, sanding, applying sealant, polishing, buffing, and finishing.
As a result, multi-step headlight restoration kits are best for major jobs. They not only increase your headlights’ brightness but also resis the re build-up of fogginess for months. Though you’d need to put several hours aside to apply them.
Tools Vs No Tools
As you might have guessed by now, the single-step headlight restoration kits need no tools. You can apply them to the beams with your bare hands, before washing them off likewise. Multi-step kits do require tools and this arrangement has more pros than cons.
Want stellar results? Hoping to restore your headlights to their original condition? Won’t mind spending a few hours on the restoration job? If your answer to all these questions is in the affirmative, then go for tool-dependent-kits.
But what are the tools that you might need? More often than not, you only need a sander and a drill. While some multi-step kits include this in their package, those which have a leaner price tag ask you to purchase them separately.
Provided you’re hopeful that all is not lost as far as the condition of your car’s headlights is concerned, then you might have no need to spend extra effort and money on tools.
Inevitably, that means that you’d end-up with single-step restoration kits. Keep in mind that if your headlight is more damaged that you ‘hope’ it is, the absence of tools might not give the restoration job which you might desire.
Type of Lens
These are substances that emit light which then passes through the glass before illuminating the path in front of your car. Most of the vehicles come with headlights that use plastic lenses. Though there are some older models on the road which use Plexiglas.
As stated above, most newer vehicles come with built-in plastic lenses inside their headlights. That’s because plastic lenses are more impact-resistant, more scratch-proof and weigh less heavy than their glass counterparts.
If you’ve purchased your vehicle within the last decade, chances are that it would have a plastic lens. In that case, you’d need a multi-step restoration kit to eliminate its yellowing, as the plastic lens are more abrasive and require more force to eliminate scratches.
In contrast to their plastic counterparts, Plexiglas lenses are more brittle. They allow fewer production tolerances and get scratches more easily. Also, they tend to be heavier when compared with plastic lenses.
That means that if your vehicle’s headlights has a Plexiglas lens, it might be better for you to choose a single-step restoration kit. Also, make sure that the chemicals in the kit are less aggressive. Or else you might end up doing more harm than good.
Grit of Sanding Pads
If the damage is more visible, you should choose restoration kits with abrasive pads to sand away the scratches. Such a scenario would require you to make a decision about the ‘grit’ of the sanding pad – which, in simple words, means the coarseness of the pad.
Provided your headlights have light damage, go for Aluminum oxide grit. They last longer on smooth surfaces because of their self-renewing property. However, they’re more delicate and crumble easily if used harshly.
Garnet sanding pads are a double-edged sword. On the one end, they wear out the fastest because of their extremely rough action. On the other end, the same extremely rough surface helps them produce the smoothest headlights.
Most restoration kits you see on the market use silicon carbide sanding pads. That’s because their properties make them ideal for metal, plastic, and Plexiglas.
Pro Tip: If you feel drowning in so much information, get sandpapers with grits ranging between 1,000 and 6,000. They’d work fine on all surfaces.
Condition of Your Headlamps
Since you’re here in search of the headlight restoration kit, one of two things is true. Either your car’s headlamps have suffered huge damage. Or there are only minor scratches on the headlights’ external surface. The condition of your headlamps should be an important factor when selecting the kit.
If your headlamps are damaged:
Then go for a multi-step kit that contains finer grit sandpaper. It should require you to use tools i.e. electric drills to buff the lamp’s external surface.
If your headlamps have minor scratches:
Then you have the freedom to select a single-step kit with coarser grit sandpaper. If the scratches are extremely fine, you might not have to use tools.
Features and Specs of Headlight Restoration Kits
Here are some of the features which are a must-have for headlight restoration kits:
Regardless of how latest your vehicle and, by extension, its headlights are, the latter will fade on exposure with the sun. That’s why you must make sure that your headlight restoration kit includes a UV sealant. Its protective layer will protect the headlights in the same way as the best car paint sealants protect the paint.
Know why most products that we have recommended in this review require several steps? Apart from removing the signs of fading, the multi-step kits also polish your headlamps, buff their outer surface and contain a UV sealant which would prevent future oxidation.
As you can see by going through the abovementioned models, they perform two tasks. Apart from restoring the clarity of your headlamps’ surface, they prevent future fading. And that too without charging extra for their 2-in-1 utility.
Some of the items that are part of a complete restoration kit include cleaning and sealing solution, several grits of sandpaper, glove, and towel. The reason why you should insist on purchasing a complete kit is that, otherwise, you’d have to spend on separate items.
One of the defining points of top-rated restoration kits is that their utility isn’t limited to headlamps. You can use them on windows, tail lights, plastic surfaces, and even your motorcycle’s helmet.
What are Foggy Headlights?
Why Your Headlights Get Foggy
Here are some of the possible reasons:
In plain English, oxidation happens when anything reacts with oxygen. Your headlights react with oxygen that is present in the UV rays of the sun. This reaction, in turn, makes the plastic of your headlamp foggy.
Flying Dust and Debris:
Since they’re exposed to the environment, your headlamps take a beating from dirt and dust particles. These substances form a microscopic layer on the external surface of the headlights, dimming the intensity of the beam coming from inside.
Almost all vehicles have headlamps whose external surface is covered with a watertight seal. This seal breaks down due to wear and tear, allowing tiny water particles to enter the headlamp, cause condensation, scatter the beam and reduce the intensity of the light.
Even if you’ve never used chemicals to clean your vehicle, those present in the atmosphere would be enough to form a layer on top of the lamp’s surface. In the long run, they might damage the finish on the outer surface of the headlight, causing cloudiness. They are the same chemicals that, as mentioned in our windshield washer fluid buying guide, make it foggy.
Does Headlight Cleaning and Restoration Make a Difference?
Since you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on them, you should ask whether headlight restoration kits work or not. The best answer to this question is looking at the alternative – the other options you could explore to get rid of the fogginess which has clouded your headlamps.
Let’s take a look at the alternatives of headlight restoration kits, and whether or not they make a better difference vis-à-vis the kits when it comes to restoring the originality of your vehicle’s headlamps.
The first alternative is replacing the headlights with a new pair. It’s a good choice provided you can afford to pay 20x more than what is the asking price of a headlight restoration kit. Even then, however, you’d have to spend the same amount after every few years, as headlights will keep getting foggy.
Perhaps, if you cannot afford to replace the entire headlight, you should replace the lens? It’s a more economical option, but even the most inexpensive lens cost 10 times as much as a headlight restoration kit. So this option isn’t one for those of you who don’t have very deep pockets.
The last option is to use toothpaste. Apply the toothpaste on a cloth and use it to wipe clean the surface of the headlamp. As easy (and cost-effective) this procedure is, it would be useless on damaged headlamps which have multiple reasons for getting foggy.
Having discussed all the possible options, one thing becomes clear: headlight restoration kits are the most cost-effective but also the most effective method of reducing fogginess. Therefore, if you want to save both your time and money, they are the best choice.
Why Cloudy Headlights Pose as a Danger Concerning Safety?
According to research carried out by the American Automobile Association (AAA), cloudy headlights produce up to 80 percent less light than their brand new counterparts. The study also found out that more than 60% of vehicles on the road have faulty headlights.
It further states that the average time period a headlight takes to get yellow or foggy is five years, though some of the cheap ones started to show signs of deterioration within three years. The fogginess, which stems from the excessive exposure of the headlamps to sunlight, results in faulty headlamps.
Cloudy Headlights are Putting You at Risk
Here’s why this is a major safety hazard for you and others on the road:
Greater probability of accidents and fatalities
Almost 39% of road accidents that take place at night happen due to low road light conditions. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that when the level of lighting is insufficient, the drivers cannot see the debris on the road as well as the pedestrians crossing it.
Worse, the risk of fatalities also increases during night time. Rural roads oversee a 4x higher fatality rate whereas urban areas saw 2.5times higher fatality rates during night time. Part of the reason, as you might guess, is insufficient road lighting.
Risk to pedestrians crossing the road
Ever wondered why motorways are fully lit in areas where there are interchanges? Because their planners know that pedestrians are at greater risk of bearing the brunt of poor road lighting. The incoming vehicle’s speed leaves those crossing the road with little chance to save themselves in the event of a collision.
Drivers on the wheel of a vehicle with foggy headlights have to be careful of a double whammy. On the one end, they’ve to put in more effort to see what’s in front of them at night time. On the other end, since the headlight isn’t bright enough, they have to use more horns to warn the pedestrians.
Drivers might get caught unawares
In the good old days, headlamps were made of glass. They either shone at full brightness or they simply stopped working; there was no middle ground. That made it impossible for the driver to ignore the signs that could put their safety at risk.
Unfortunately, with the arrival of plastic headlights – those which turn yellow and foggy without the driver noticing the change, the person on the wheel might be caught unawares. That means they’d be totally convinced that the headlights are working fine until something bad happens.
Incredible Benefits to Headlight Restoration
Most headlights on the vehicles that are currently on the road are made of polycarbonate. It’s a thermoplastic which lasts longer than glass – the material which was used in decades gone by to manufacture headlamps – but succumbs to the problems of fogginess.
7 Benefits of Restoring Your Cloudy, Foggy & Hazy Headlamps & Headlights
If you restore its external shine, here are the 7 benefits you could expect to reap:
Headlight restoration kits could increase the light output of your headlamps by as much as 30 percent. The resulting increase in visibility can ensure your safety as well as that of others on the road.
Maintain Resale Value
Are you one of those persons who never settle on one vehicle for longer than necessary? Then you might want to use the headlight restoration kit for the simple reason of keeping your model’s resale value intact.
Enhance Vehicle’s Appearance
Do you know that fully restored headlights add radiance to your vehicle? The resulting brightness enhances your vehicle’s appearance and makes it the envy of onlookers.
Better Road Visibility
Do you have to be more vigilant on the road? Either your eyesight has gone south or the headlamps are the culprits. If it’s the latter, you can relax during your night-time driving by restoring the headlights.
Save Money (1)
Estimates by American Automotive Association indicate that if you prefer restoring headlamps over replacing them altogether with original headlamp assembly, you’d end up spending up to 20x less amount.
Save Money (2)
There are two ways you can restore your headlights. Either you can go the DIY way, or you can hire the professional. We recommend you go the former route as you’d end up spending 3x less amount that way.
Save Money (3)
Driving a vehicle with foggy headlights can land you a ticket from the traffic police. If you’re a repeat offender, you might even end up losing your driving license.
How does Headlight Restoration Work?
You might already know that headlight restoration involves refreshing worn-out headlight lenses. There could be multiple causes of the headlamps losing their luster including UV light, flying dust and debris, exposure to chemicals, and acid rains.
Over time, these substances break the protective layer that is preventing the ingress of harmful particles inside the headlamp. If you ignore the early signs, the breakage of the layer might be followed by the developing of cracks, a conditions experts refer to as crazing.
Headlight restoration kits prevent this with their multi-step procedure (explained in the upcoming section). The items in the kit, including sandpaper, polishing compound, wax, UV sealant, and a microfiber towel first remove the dirty layer of environmental irritants before applying a protective layer.
As a result, the external surface of the headlamps which might have become foggy due to oxidization is restored to its original conditions. When that happens, the light coming out of the bulb stands a better chance to illuminate the road.
Restoring Headlights Using a Headlight Restoration Kit
Follow these steps to restore your headlights’ original shine using the restoration kit:
How to Use a Headlight Restoration Kit in 6 Steps
Step: Pick a suitable kit
Seems like a no brainer, right? What isn’t as obvious are the materials that should be a part of your kit. Basically, to follow our procedure, you’d need your kit to have microfiber towels, blue painter’s tape, UV sealant, paste wax, polishing compound, and wet/dry sandpaper (multiple grits). Additionally, you’d also need a hose and you can also choose a foam cannon from our foam cannon reviews.
Step: Wash your headlights
Prepare a mixture of soap and water. Use it to thoroughly wash not only the headlights but also the surrounding area. That’s because we’re going to use tape, so the area that it’s going to stick must be cleaned off dust and dirt particles as well.
Step: Paste tape around the headlights
Since you’re going to sand the headlights’ lenses, it’s important to protect the surrounding paint. The painter’s tape will completely circumscribe the headlight and protect the nearby trim. Also, it would give you that margin of error if/when your hand slips while using the sandpaper.
Pro Tip: Before pasting tape, measure the length and width of your headlights. Then cut the tape in four parts accordingly. This will help you to paste it with minimal fuss.
Step: Sand the headlights
If you followed our advice from the first step, you’d have multiple grits of sandpaper. Start sanding with the most abrasive (the one with the lowest grit number). Before sanding, wet the headlight and the sandpaper and then start sanding in horizontal strokes.
It’s imperative for the safety of the lens that the surface of the headlight is wet as you sand. Otherwise, you might end up scratching the lens and doing more harm than good. The results of this step will depend on how much effort you put-in. So don’t hesitate to spend a few minutes down there.
Once you’ve spent 5 to 10 minutes with the most abrasive sandpaper, switch it with its less coarse counterpart. As you have already sanded horizontally, change direction and start sanding diagonally. Don’t cut corners and put in proper time, while ensuring that the lens is wet with water.
Tip: If you want to prepare the headlights for sanding, choosing a car scratch remover will help.
Step: Polish and Wax
There are two ways you could polish the lens once you’ve dried the headlights after the sanding. You can either apply the polish onto a microfiber towel and rub it using circular motions, or you can use an orbital buffer if you are short on time.
After applying the polish, wax the lens. That would involve squeezing the wax out and applying it onto the headlights. Once a big blot of wax is visible, use the other clean microfiber towel to rub it in. This process will require some effort so don’t worry if your shoulders start giving signs of a workout.
Final Step: Apply UV sealant
We have already told you that one of the biggest causes of foggy headlights are UV rays. They react with plastic and oxidize it, thereby blurring its external and internal surface. All the previous steps dealt with the problem of the blurriness. This one will make sure that the haziness doesn’t return again.
Wet your paper towel and apply the UV sealant onto the headlight. Then rub the sealant in by the sweeping broad strokes of the towel. Once you’ve applied the sealant, allow it to dry by parking your vehicle away from moisture, preferably in a garage.
How Often Should It be Used?
Unfortunately, there is no definite figure that we could give you in response to this question. That’s because we don’t know the existing condition of your vehicle. We are also unaware of how polluted (or otherwise) your environment is. Other factors, i.e. type of your sealant and lens, are also unknowns.
That said, we could give you some clues. People living in a dusty environment or near gravel pathways might have to use these kits more often than those who live in clean, gated communities and only use their car to get to and from office.
Also, before using the renewal kit, take into consideration the climate of your area. For instance, if it’s humid in your part of the words, wait for a dry day. If your area sees long winters, wait until it’s spring, or at least for a sunny day. Never use the kit when it’s wet or humid out there.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to use any of the above-mentioned kits, you won’t have to apply them for more than once per year.
FAQs and Answers
Q: How to get the most from your headlight restoration kit?
A: Act on the following tips to get the most out of your renewal kit:
- Store the sealant in a cold, frigid place. That would increase its consistency and would, therefore, have a positive impact on its performance.
- Start with the highest grit sandpaper. By removing the oxidation and other discoloration signs, it will make the remaining work easy for you.
- Attach the included tape around the headlights. That would prevent you (and the sandpaper) from messing up the paint job.
Q: How to tell your headlights need restoration?
A: Here are some of the signs that tell that your headlights need restoration:
- You face difficulty seeing what’s in front of your vehicle at night.
- You can see innumerable scratches on the surface of your headlamps.
- You (or anyone else) has noticed that the headlights have become yellowish
Q: Can cloudy lights lead to a failed car inspection test?
A: To be honest with you, it isn’t a common occurrence. However, since foggy headlights pose a safety concern to everyone on the road, you might find yourself in hot water with the garages and/or inspectors if the output of your headlamps has seen a significant decrease.
There are several major benefits that you can get from the best headlight restoration kit. Apart from ensuring that you remain safe while driving – by making you more visible, they’d increase your car’s resale value and also save money which you’d otherwise have to spend on replacing the headlamps.
Furthermore, as a mere scroll through our headlight restoration kit reviews will reveal, the best units last a long time. That means that once you have applied them with due diligence, they’d help retain your headlamps’ light output for up to a year. And that too after a single coat!
Other than that, these units won’t cost you to rob a bank. Instead, as we have stated earlier, even the most expensive headlight restoration kits cost a pittance. So we see no reason why any driver who is concerned with their safety and their vehicle’s appearance should ignore them.